Riley Cooper said something stupid while intoxicated. Inebriation isn't an excuse, but I have been really drunk many times (looking back, a stupid amount of times), and I have done some incredibly stupid shit when intoxicated. Things I am absolutely ashamed of. Things that make me ill just thinking about them. I have woke up the next morning, remembered what I did (or had a friend tell me what I did) and was shocked at what a terrible person I acted like. I have been incredibly stupid when drunk, but luckily, I have learned from my mistakes. I have made every type of mistake, but I don't make the same one twice, so at least I have that going for me. I look back and thank god that camera phones were not around during my stupid days. If they were, I would have to relive these moments with people around and everyone would know what a piece of shit I was. I was a piece of shit, but luckily I eventually grew up and turned into a human being.
Riley Cooper is 25 years old. I was still growing up when I was 25 years old. Riley Cooper also has to deal with the fact that he is an incredibly gifted football player. Because of that, people have bent over backwards to appease him, probably starting at a very young age. It is very tough to grow up when nobody forces you to grow up. As long as he excelled in football, he could basically do and say just about anything with no repercussions.
That is what got us to this point. Now obviously being a football player does not totally excuse his actions, because there are many people who have grown up with similar experiences and have never said what Cooper said, but that doesn't mean this is an unforgivable offense.
He said something stupid. He said it. He didn't act on his words, because it was nothing but talk. It was stupid talk, but it was just talk. Unfortunately, we live in a society where Cooper's black teammates have heard that word used in a derogatory way hundreds, if not thousands of times. That doesn't make it okay, but as bad as it is, we have come an incredibly long way in 20 years.
This is where censorship is a good thing. It's not government mandated; it's people mandated. People get shamed for saying stupid shit, and less stupid shit gets said. Riley Cooper said something stupid, and he is currently paying the price. The chances of Riley Cooper saying something like that again are likely zero percent. This is a man who has to feel like shit every waking hour of his days currently.
Young people, especially when drunk, say and do stupid shit. The media assault alone is probably enough punishment for him to never say the same thing again. But I'm guessing that facing his teammates made him feel even more like a piece of shit. What he did was terrible, but as long as he recognizes that, I do hope he gets a second chance. And if he doesn't learn from his mistake, then he's a racist asshole who probably doesn't a team's or the public's forgiveness. Here's to hoping that Riley Cooper is the former, as opposed to the latter.